- I have never been a huge fan of Gilbert and Sullivan. I
admire their talent and especially their clever lyrics, but I
have only seen six of their plays, the most popular ones
several times. However,
this clever collage,”What a Howdy Do: The Mischievous World
of Gilbert and Sullivan,” written and directed by Dale
Gutzman with the aid of Paul Helm for his musical direction,
amused a full house of fans on Sunday and memoralized a long
tradition at Skylight Music Theatre.
the show started slowly with a too-contrived and too-long
introduction, once the cast of four very talented, very
energized performers began their journey through many of the
Gilbert and Sullivan classics, we were in for an exciting
couple of hours.
Clarke and Diane Lane played the competitive prima donnas with
their strikingly contrasting voices, and Ray Jivoff and Helm
added their rich baritone and tenor ranges to the choice mix.
Helm also played the piano and participated in some of the
comic shtick. All four vocalists were capable and fun to watch
and listen to. Jivoff and Lane were especially reactive
surprises punctuated the review. It was a mŽlange of silly,
even outlandish and beautiful moments. Occasionally, a strain
of a modern musical was inserted into a Gilbert and Sullivan
composition, which provided a humorous surprise, but since
their works influenced the modern American musical, it was
entirely fitting that they be wedded.
numbers that were especially beautiful were “The Willow
Song,” as sung by Clarke, and the duet,” Oh Leave Me Not
to Pine,” rendered by Helm and Clarke.
Five Minute Mikado,” which went overtime, had a clever
routine with rhythmic fans among other things, and Jivoff’s
rendition of “Sad Is the Woman’s Lot” was quite amusing
as a cross-gender role. “John
and Freddy” highlighted the dancing skills of Jivoff and
Helm while “Reconciliation” emphasized the competition
between Niffer and Diane as well as their unique talents.
loved the set design by Lisa Schlenker.
The audience participation number of requesting tunes
was clever, and the audience members willing to participate in
the “Medium High Tea” number from “The Sorcerer”
provided some mild amusement, as well.
all Gilbert and Sullivan fans, and even those, like myself,
who are a bit lukewarm, it is a charming show.
is very comfortable with an audience, and his comic abilities
were used to good avail when the audience was less than
responsive. I’ve noticed that Sunday afternoon audiences
sometimes need a little prodding.
a Howdy Do: The Mischievous World of Gilbert and Sullivan”
runs through Sunday at the Broadway Theatre Center at 158 N.
Broadway, Milwaukee. Call 414-291-7800 for show times and
tickets or visit www.skylightmusictheatre.org